Saturday, June 06, 2009

Top 10 Things I Still Think About from my Classes at CCEF

So, the workweek is over, but I'm still sitting in my office, waiting for HH to wrap up HIS workweek so we can go home together (I LOVE being able to commute with him and I actually miss that time together when he has other meetings or he rides his bike to work). But that's not what's really on my mind right now; we were talking a little bit about the Christian Counseling & Education Foundation, and so I decided to see if I could make an "off the top of my head" list of the top 10 things I still think about consistently from the classes I took while I was at WTS from 2002-2005.

Here they are, in no particular order:

1. The whole root/fruit, heart idols thing. Yeah, I know, yadda yadda yadda, we talk about it ALL the time in my church, home, work, everywhere. But it is SO influential in the way I process the world. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out Peacemaker Ministries' article "Getting to the Heart of Conflict," and this will give you a pretty good idea (yep, they got it from CCEF).

2. Where is the Mango Princess. This is a book I read for one of Mike Emlet's classes, Counseling and Physiology. We read the book to get an autobiographical feel for what it's like to live with someone who has experienced brain damage -- the challenges of navigating the medical world, the initial trauma, and the long-term adjustments. It was particularly powerful to see her struggle with the personality changes; her husband had survived, but he was a different husband. I loaned the book to someone who was going through a similar struggle and haven't seen it since; I think that makes the book worth the price of admission.

3. David Powlison talking about prayer requests -- challenging us to get to the heart in our prayer requests and not just pray for arthritic knees and surgeries. I also clearly remember singing "Come Thou Fount" in class (a personal favorite anyway) and listening to Powlison "exegete" that song.

4. Ed Welch talking about addictions. I seem to remember him talking about craving Butterfingers, and how that gave him a point of identification for people who struggled with "less sanctified" addictions. Sounds crazy, but it's profound. He also brought in a former addict (cocaine, I think), who shared with the class about his journey. If Welch could "successfully" counsel a cocaine addict, it makes that butterfinger thing seem less crazy by the minute.

5. Ed Welch on how Scripture tells stories of unclean people being made clean -- even holy. This means that all Scripture can speak even to sexual abuse. In the Old Testament, unclean always "trumped" clean when they came into contact -- that is why someone who had touched a dead person was unclean, or a menstruating woman couldn't touch other people. When clean came into contact with unclean, they both came away unclean. Until Jesus. He walks around come into contact with sinners left and right -- touching dead bodies, being touched by sick and bleeding women. And an amazing thing happens: he is not made unclean, but they are made clean. Now, holiness trumps uncleanness.

6. Okay, almost anything Ed Welch said. Or, at least I *wish* I could remember it all.

[INTERMISSION -- we went home, went to a baseball game, watched a movie, slept, and now I'm finishing this post with coffee in my hand and sitting in front of the fireplace.]

7. Joni Eareckson Tada speaking at the Living Faith conference, and reading her book When God Weeps. I was profoundly impacted by this book and was reading it at a time of life when it really struck home for me. Here's a passage that I think about regularly, which I quoted on my blog about 2 years ago, and on another blog right when I read it. I still revisit the book and recommend it to people regularly.

8. Mike Emlet teaching on s*x in counseling and physiology (the * is so I don't get weird searches arriving here). The more I've thought about it over the last 4 years, the more I believe that the way Dr. Emlet taught this -- he is both a Medical Doctor and a counselor -- was SO helpful. He was practical, he was thorough, he was not embarrassed and he made a point of telling us that no matter our stage in life (single, married, male, female), we would need to be able to unabashedly approach the subject with counselees, and we would also need to understand the many physical and emotional dynamics at play.

9. Learning about autism from Mike Emlet. I'd never really encountered autism or Aspergers, so I found it really helpful to get a biblical introduction and perspective on a topic that is so widely discussed, diagnosed and speculated on. I actually did a mediation in the last year where one of the parties, who had never met the other party but had spoken to him on the phone ONCE, was diagnosing this other party with Aspergers. It was incredibly helpful to have Dr. Emlet's teaching in the back of my mind so I could a) understand what she thought she was talking about, and b) explain some of it to my co-mediator.

10. Tim Lane on building a church-based structure for long-term care of difficult cases. An example of this would be the person who has a long-term physical ailment, joins the church and somebody takes them on as a "project" (consciously or not). The person turns out to be pretty demanding and not particularly grateful for all of the other person's efforts, so the person gets burned out, sooner or later. Then somebody else happens upon the sufferer, takes up the project, goes strong for a few months, gets burned out. Our sufferer -- whose attitude is clearly contributing to at least some of the "problem" -- is going to feel used and burned. Tim proposed a different approach to serving people like this, one that essentially grew out of small groups/care groups, that didn't rely on one person taking up the project, and that was mroe viable for genuinely loving and serving that person over the long term. He should write an article on this, too (imho).

Okay, breakfast time! I'm going to make toasted almond and pear waffles with maple whipped cream, if I can pull it off, because I'll be making it all up.


Addie said...

Good read, and thought-provoking. How will you be toasting the almonds and will the pears also be toasted?

:) But I really liked the other parts too.

Molly said...

I might post the whole recipe later, but basically, I toasted the almonds in the oven (just used about 1/2 c. sliced almonds) while I was whipping the cream (about 1 T. maple syrup per 1/2 c. cream). I just cut the pears into small chunks -- about 1/8 inch squares. Mixed those in with the waffle batter, and we were good to go! And then we had more pear chunks to put on top of our waffles.

Cindy said...

Hi. I'm writing from Kansas - which information serves no purpose, I suppose, other than to let you know that I am not writing from somewhere else!

You wrote, "I'd never really encountered autism or Aspergers, so I found it really helpful to get a biblical introduction and perspective on a topic that is so widely discussed, diagnosed and speculated on."

Can you elaborate on what is the "biblical introduction and perspective" on autism and Asperger's? You are clearly very bright and articulate, and I would very much like to read your thoughts on the topic. Thanks.

If you'd prefer to respond by email, I can be reached at this address:

Molly said...

Hi Cindy,

Thanks for your question! I'm afraid I don't have much time to respond to your question, but here are a few quick thoughts --

- I had heard of Autism, but I didn't really know what its effects were or how controversial it was in terms of seeking out a cause. What I found really helpful was that Dr. Emlet focused more on ministering to the family, the emotional and other struggles that they have, and how their church family can come around to support and encourage them.

I'd never heard of Aspergers, so it was helpful just to understand what it is, and, again, to try to understand some of the experience of both the family and the person who has it. When you focus on the emotions/experience, it's much more likely that a counselor or other brother/sister can find points of connection and be able to minister to them out of their own suffering (even if, from the outside, it looks completely different).

Hope that's at least a little helpful!

Cindy said...

Thanks, Molly. Your comments were quite helpful. I am a Christian with AS. You've encouraged me.